June 26, 2009 § 2 Comments
I’ve been doing a lot of window shopping the last few days. I haven’t really been buying much because I want to travel light but next time I come to Korea I think I will invest in some clothes here. Korean clothes are tailored to suit my body type better than clothes I usually find in America and the clothes are so pretty.
Throughout the last few days I have been to Myeongdong, Insadong, and Dongdaemun.
Myeongdong is like Old Town Pasadena or Bay Street in Emeryville. There are big department stores, little boutiques, and street vendors selling clothes, shoes, and accessories. There is also a movie theater and lots of restaurants in the area. They also have high end stores like Chanel and Louis Vuitton. While at Myeongdong, I ate the spiciest dish I have eaten since coming here.
There’s a little bit of a back story. I met up with an unni who I knew from America and she said that she liked really spicy food. While in America I often eat foods that are considered spicy by the casual bystander but simply taste normal to me. However, I realized once we started eating that the Korean meaning of very spicy is nowhere near the American definition. We ate a dish called 해물떡찜 (seafood rice cake…something?) that was basically a really spicy version of 떡복기 with some seafood and vegetables mixed in. It actually wasn’t too bad but according to the unni I was with, the dish is supposed to be twice as spicy. Apparently she likes to eat foods so spicy where it makes you cry as you eat it. Neither of us were crying as we ate lunch but I did drink more water than usual.
I also saw a 뽑기 stand at Myeongdong. Usually they have a table or something but this lady was practically sitting on the floor. What they do is heat up some sugar, add a little bit of baking soda, put the mixture on a metal surface, flatten the mixture, and partially stamp it with a shape. Then they sell these round sugar things for one or two dollars. If you can successfully take out the shape in the middle without ruining the shape, you get another one for free.
My mom used to make this for me when I was younger and then later, I just made it for myself. Looking back, my metabolism must have been really fast because I regularly ate things like microwaved marshmallows and melted spoonfuls of sugar. I used to melt sugar in a ladle and make shapes on the oven counter before eating them. Anyway, seeing this stand brought back memories and I naturally bought one. I was industrially chipping away at the shape (a heart) when disaster struck and the heart was no more. =( It’s okay though because I have all the materials to make more at home. =)
Later that day I went to Insadong. Insadong is a great places for tourists because it sells a lot of traditional Korean souvenir type items. I went with a different unni who is a Seoul native but hadn’t been to Insadong in years. One of the highlights of the evening was seeing these very outgoing boys make and sell a traditional Korean candy called yut. He was so hilarious and put in random phrases in English as he demonstrated how to make the candy. I took a video but since Youtube doesn’t let me upload from Korea I have to wait until I get back to the states.
The next day I went to Dongdaemun (East Gate) and browsed the shopping areas. Dongdaemun is mostly clothes, bags, hats, and accessories. I had always imagined this area as an outdoor shopping area so I was a bit surprised to see that everything was in buildings. My niece (who is one year younger than me) and I went together and bought matching t-shirts. I joked about getting couple t-shirts with her since my boyfriend refuses to cooperate but then later liked the same t-shirt that she picked out so ended up getting the same one. I was tempted to buy some more stuff but I know that I will be buying at least one article of clothing in each of the countries that I am planning to visit so I only bought a hat, headband, leggings, and two t-shirts. Okay, that kind of sounds like a lot but compared to all the things I could have bought, that is nothing. =) I also bought and ate a chicken teriyaki kabob from a street vendor that was delicious.
Afterwards we went to COEX (big mall in Seoul) and ate dinner at Todai. I have to say, the Today at COEX is so much better than the Todai at the Westfield in Arcadia. Everything is presented so beautifully (especially the desserts) and the food quality was surprisingly good.
After each country, I am going to post the best restaurant, taking into consideration price, service, and food quality. The current front runner is this samgaetang (chicken stuffed with rice) restaurant that I have the business card for so I will be sure to post their business information if it wins.
Today I tried dog meat for the first time and it was pretty good. It tasted like a more tender version of beef. The stew was flavorful without being salty or spicy. I really like how they cook it with sesame leaves so the flavor of the sesame is present with each spoonful. It doesn’t beat out the samgaetang restaurant but I would definitely go back to eat it again. I love dogs but I don’t consider eating them animal cruelty because I also love cows, pigs, and chickens but still choose to eat them. I tried going vegetarian a couple times because I felt bad for the animals, especially when I was younger, but I think I just love food too much to give up meat. I’m willing to try anything, as long as it is delicious.
Well, that’s basically what happened during the last few days. Tomorrow is my last day in Seoul and it looks like I will be sleeping most of it away. I’m planning to meet some friends and relatives to say goodbye before I board my plane the next morning. I should probably pack but I feel so uninspired as of yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up packing 3o minutes prior to leaving for the airport.
I’m really sad to have to say good-bye but not as devastated as I was earlier this week. I think I have slowly been preparing my heart and mind to leave and I no longer think secret thoughts of never leaving Korea. I am planning to continue my trek over Asia and I am excited to see what new wonders Shanghai will reveal to me. I’m sorry I haven’t been the most reliable blogger but please continue with me in my journey.